The weather is getting warmer, the sun is shining and it’s Bike Week from the 13th – 21st June: what better excuse is there to get out and about on your bike with the family?
There are a huge number of benefits to cycling as a family. Not only do you get to spend some quality time together, discovering new places, but you can also enjoy plenty of fresh air, and everyone will benefit from getting some more exercise.
To celebrate Bike Week, we’ve put together a guide with everything you need to know before you set out on your first outing together. We’re also offering some amazing promotional deals on bikes this Bike Week – get a coupon for £5 off when you spend £50, or £10 off when you spend £100! So if you’re inspired by this blog post, check out this amazing offer online and in-store during Bike Week.
Cycling with a baby or toddler
Until they’re around 4 or 5 years old, your little one will just be a passenger on your bicycle, and it’s important they’re well-protected as you’re going from A to B. You have a choice of baby carriers, from seats to trailers:
- Rear-mounted bike seats fit over the back wheel, and support your child well with a high back and raised sides. They can, however, throw you a little off balance so it might be a good idea to practice somewhere quiet before hitting the open road.
- With front-mounted bike seats, your little one sits in front of you, and your arms go around the outside of your child to grip the handlebars. These types of seats tend to be more compact, and you’ll have closer contact with your child, but might also have to adjust your cycling style to accommodate the seat.
- Bike trailers attach to the back of your bike, so your little one is towed behind you in an enclosed compartment. Trailers are wider and more visible than baby seats, and are considered to be safer as, even if you fall over, the trailer will stay upright. However, you won’t be as physically close to your child, and they require more leg and lung power from the cyclist!
Whichever way you choose to get around with your baby, it’s important to remember that it’s not generally recommended that you cycle with a baby who can’t sit upright and support their own weight.
Bike safety for kids
Whether your little one is in a bike seat, trailer or if they’re old enough to have their own set of wheels, it’s important that they stay safe. We’ve put together some top bike safety tips to keep in mind when you’re out and about:
- Buy your child a properly fitting safety helmet
- It should cover their forehead, and shouldn’t move around on their head
- Avoid nipping your little one’s skin by popping a finger underneath the chin strap when fastening it
- Make sure you apply sun cream in summer, particularly to the back of your child’s neck
- Dress them in an extra layer of clothing, as they won’t get quite as hot as the cyclist!
- Ensure there aren’t any laces, sleeves or scarves dangling which might get caught in wheels or spokes
- Regularly check the whole family’s bikes for loose screws and bolts
- Make sure your child’s bike fits! They should be able to touch the floor when their toes when they’re on the saddle.
There are also some rules of the road which you should follow if you’re out cycling as a group. When in a group with children, the adult should cycle at the back of the pack, and if there are two adults, they should be positioned at the front and rear.
You can find out more about road safety for kids (as well as more great cycling tips!) in our Kids’ Bike Guide, but if you follow these 10 simple rules, then the whole family should stay safe and happy when pedalling around.
- Never jump red lights. Cyclists are considered drivers of vehicles, and should therefore follow the rules of the road.
- Only cycle on the pavement if it is a designated cycle path.
- Always signal clearly. Teach your children the correct signals to use – as well as the standard hand signals, it might be useful to learn signals to use when cycling in a group, to indicate hazards or that you’re stopping.
- If you’re cycling towards dusk, always use a working front light and red back light, as well as a red rear reflector. This one isn’t optional – it’s the law!
- If you’re cycling on shared paths, don’t go too fast.
- Use a bell to indicate your presence to pedestrians, but you shouldn’t assume that they’ve heard you.
- Always be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary.
- If you’re cycling on shared paths, be particularly careful when approaching corners or on narrow stretches.
- When using shared cycle paths, always stick to the correct side!
- Give way to pedestrians on shared paths.
Now you know the rules of cycling, all that’s left is to get out there and explore! We’ve already highlighted some of our favourite family cycle routes in our Kids’ Bike Guide – but there are so many traffic free cycle routes to enjoy across the UK, we’ve put together even more great routes for you and your family to discover.
- Bristol to Bath Path
This is a lovely, scenic route along a disused railway path. It’s nice and flat so little legs shouldn’t get too weary, and it includes plenty to enjoy along the way including working steam engines and interesting structures, as I’s one of the Sustrans Art Trails.
- 7 Stanes
If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, take a trip to the south of Scotland, to one of the 7 Stanes cycle routes. Each location has graded routes, so there should be something to suit all ages and abilities.
Even in London, you can get out on your bike without encountering any traffic! The banks of the Thames offer long stretches of traffic-free cycling, along the Thames Path National Trail which runs from the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier at Greenwich.
- Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons National Park offer six glorious traffic-free cycle routes for you to explore, with a range of distances and gradients to choose from so you can challenge yourself or take it easy on a leisurely amble through the park. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
- Tarka Trail, Devon
This trail runs through the countryside familiar to fans of Henry Williamson’s novel Tarka the Otter, perfect for nature spotting along the way. Choose whether to tackle the full 31 miles or a shorter section of the route if you’ve got younger kids with you.